The Day God Shakes the Nations 

(When suspense ends, fear escalates & our lives will be turned up-side-down) 

 

We've all experienced those moments... the unexpected phone call or knock on the door that instantly changed our lives. It can be deeply personal, like the death of a loved one, a health scare or a criminal act. It can be a national event; for example, like the day the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up, the morning of September 11th, or the December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean 9.1 earthquake and tsunami that killed over 200,000 people, when we woke up unimaginable loss of human lives.

 

On the other hand, the Scriptures offer clear warning about an event that will rock the world, which should not take Bible students by total surprise... occurring on a day like any other day, when we are going about our normal activities--the day final events begin. How long we will be held in suspense of this day, and the coming Messiah? That question has been asked for centuries.

 

A series of last-day tragedies of global impact are fast approaching, which will radically alter our world, our nation, and our individual lives--starting with one fell swoop. The Word connects this and several momentous earth-shaking events to the annual Biblical Festival days Hanukkah("moed" meaning "rehearsals" in Hebrew), as they relate to God's appointed times and seasons.  Haggai 2 points to one of those days--a prophetic key that may unlock the timing of war and upheaval.  Here, God reveals one of the most specific dates found in the prophecies, which is repeated several times in this chapter for emphasis: "the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month," known as the month of Kislev. The ninth month of the Biblical calendar arrives each year around November/December... and, this year it falls on Tuesday, December 12, 2017. The evening of the 24th day always brings with it each year the first night of lighting the Hanukkah menorah-the Festival of Lights, or Dedication.  "Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the Temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly,” (John 10:22-24). 

 

The Hanukkah message harks back to the Maccabean victory over the Syrian-Greek army. After the defeat, the Maccabees entered Jerusalem in triumph and ritually cleansed the Temple, reestablishing traditional worship there. When the Temple was restored, the small flask of pure oil that could only last one day lasted eight days, proving a miracle had indeed happened there. The little flask of oil shed light on the big military campaign. “Not by the army, not by power, but through My Spirit, says God” (Zechariah 4:6). Hanukkah is about the little light that portrays the Great Light.

 

The Haggai passage indicates although the nation of Israel today has failed miserably to obey God (so too, Gentile believers); nonetheless, starting on this future date, specifically the "twenty-fourth day of the ninth month"... either subtly, or with a big bang--the process of leading the chosen of God through the appointed times of the end to the eternal Kingdom of God will begin. However, those forthcoming victories will not be without significant human tragedy, bloodshed and tribulation.  The prophet Haggai wrote this oracle to come in chapter 2; here we learn...  

 

1) Of Jews & Gentiles, God's awakening, He will "shake all nations." (v. 7)

2) Of Israel's national religion, "whatever they do and whatever they offer... is defiled." (v. 14)

3) Of Israel's current rebellion, "you did not return to me." (v. 17)

4) Of Israel's future blessings, "give careful thought... from this [24th] day on I will bless you." (vs. 18, 19)

5) And again, of God's tribulation, "I will shake the heavens and the earth." (v. 21)

6) Of Gentiles, God will begin to take down the world's most powerful governments, He will "overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms." (v. 22)

7) Of Israel, a favored nation/people, "on that [24th] day, declares the LORD Almighty, 'I will take you... I will make you my signet ring, for I have chosen you.'" (v. 23)

 

Damascus & The Middle East Military Showdown

 

As in the past, the nation of Israel continues to be surrounded by hostile enemies--Syria, Egypt, Jordon and Saudi Arabia, and distant foes such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and others. The prophet Haggai wrote of events in his day and prophetic miracles of the last days--that although disobedient, God was about to bless Israel with eternal blessings by overthrowing the nations and military might of Israel's enemies who surround her.  Psalm 83 tells of miraculous victories over surrounding enemies and the enlargement of Israel's territory, as God promised long ago by the ancient Hebrew prophets.  In this context, the Scriptures also forewarn of the Damascus tragedy--an event of mass destruction. The Word warns, "A prophecy against Damascus: 'See, Damascus will no longer be a city, but will become a heap of ruins,'" (Isaiah 17:1).  Woe to the Syrians; your leader and generals have betrayed you. 

 

The Word seems to indicate the process will begin on the 24th day of Kislev--the divine stamp on the Hebrew Calendar of God's appointed times, and will continue to escalate during a major military showdown with Israel's enemies in the weeks to follow. The final unfolding of prophetic events that will begin at Hanukkah are, in reality, a continuation of God's blessings that started 100 years ago with the Balfour Declaration (November 2, 1917). Within forty days the Turks surrendered Palestine to the British during World War I, on the 24th day of Kislev (December 9, 1917). These historical events set in motion the restoration of Davidic sovereignty over the Holy Land that came to fruition through the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine by the United Nations on November 29, 1947--eight days before Hanukkah; followed by the May 14, 1948 Declaration of Independence, when Israel became a nation.

 

Israel's very existence continues to stir the anger of Israel's enemies. Today, we sit on the verge of Middle East war that will mushroom into immense tragedy and the loss of precious souls. When the Middle East erupts--involving Israel's alliances against Syria and her surrounding enemies, and the Persian Gulf conflict led by the U.S. coalition against Iran (Daniel 8:1-8; 17, 19-21)--we can know with certainty the appointed end-time crisis is at hand. Starting on the 24th day of Kislev, the beginning point of God's final blessings for the people of Israel, the Jews will experience conquests that expand Israel's influence and initiate the final events portrayed in the books of Daniel and Revelation. This will lead to the placement of the foundation stone for the Third Temple in Jerusalem; but, not before the quaking-shaking devastation of the City we know and love, and the collapse of the Western Wall and Temple Mount. 

 

As we near these momentous events, it's clear that not only the world but also Jerusalem sits on the brink of earthquake and war that will forever change the landscape of the beloved City, and the course of human history.  After the Middle East explodes, massive casualties of World War III will multiply in the weeks and months to follow, along with global financial collapse, natural and man-made catastrophes, and local and regional upheaval.  We will fear the end of civilization as we know it; but Jesus warned, "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. All these are the beginning of birth pains," (Matthew 24:6-8). Once ajar, the door of prophecy can never be shut. Mayhem will reign, and the world will never be the same.

 

Knowing that time is short, what spiritual lessons can we apply to our lives? Daniel 12:10 says, "Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand" the hidden and mysterious timelines of Daniel and Revelation, and God's plan for the end of the ages.  Are we wise? To be so, we must be teachable!  We can be refined and purified, if we are willing to humbling submit to Christ and His Word. Through it all, we must give our lives and future to Yeshua--Jesus our Messiah.  Whatever trials come our way, we must trust day by day in the One who sacrificially gave His life for us.   

 

The Light of the World promised, "I am going there to prepare a place for you [New Jerusalem]. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am," John 14:2-3.  Jerusalem and the world will drastically change, but we are promised a new and better City whose builder and maker is God.  A place we can call home, where pain, tears and sorrow will be wiped away. Where, as one family, we will enter through the gates of the Kingdom City and into the realm of Heaven's peace and tranquility. Until that day... 

 

Keep looking up!